Science guys at research company Google Drone say commercial aircraft flights will be completely automatic within the next decade or so. Citing the continuing advancements in pilotless drones, they claim it’s only a matter of time when larger aircraft can be totally and safely operated from ground control stations.
My first reaction would be to ask if the total automation would apply to vulnerable passengers going through security without being groped by human inspectors. Will their private parts then be invaded, searched and fondled by smirking machines with cold metal fingers?
I’ve been flying in all kinds of aircraft for the past 70 years, starting in the back seat of a Navy SNJ trainer and passenger on R4D transports. Through the years, I’ve experienced all kinds of civilian flights, from piston engines to the latest jets. I don’t know if I could cope with a totally crewless airplane.
Would an automatic flight attendant refuse to help elderly me stash my carry-on into the overhead, just as the live ones always snarkily do these days? On long trips where sleep is necessary, would the mechanical attendant rent me the same kind of stinky blanket and soiled pillow? Would my meal tray be delivered with a flywheel in my soup?
Finally, can you imagine a future flight fright when the speaker above your seat announces: This is Igor 4X7J98, your automatic pilot. Please fasten your seat belts. We are experiencing some blferrrg szzzlgxgrrrrrfds…